INTRODUCTION: Rapid population growth, stagnant contraceptive prevalence, and high unmet need for family planning present significant challenges for meeting Pakistan's national and international development goals. Although health behaviors are shaped by multiple social and environmental factors, research on contraceptive uptake in Pakistan has focused on individual and household determinants, and little attention has been given to community characteristics that may affect access to services and reproductive behavior.
METHODS: Individual and community determinants of contraceptive use were identified using multivariable multilevel logistic regression to analyze data from a 2014 cross-sectional survey of 6,200 mothers in 503 communities in Sindh, Pakistan.
RESULTS: Only 27% of women who had given birth in the two years before the study reported using contraceptives. After adjusting for individual and community characteristics, there was no difference in the odds of contraceptive use between urban and rural women. Women who had delivered at a health facility had 1.4 times higher odds of contraceptive use than women who delivered at home. Those who received information about birth spacing from a doctor or relatives/friends had 1.81 and 1.38 times higher odds of contraceptive use, respectively, than those who did not. Living in a community where a higher proportion of women received quality antenatal care and where discussion of birth spacing was more common was significantly associated with contraceptive use. Community-wide poverty lowered contraceptive use.
CONCLUSIONS: Quality of care at the community level has strong effects on contraceptive use, independent of the characteristics of individual households or women. These findings suggest that powerful gains in contraceptive use may be realized by improving the quality of antenatal care in Pakistan. Community health workers should focus on generating discussion of birth spacing in the community. Outreach efforts should target communities where the demand for contraception appears to be depressed due to high levels of poverty.
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